Vegan Cooking: Keep It Simply Sensible
Vegan cooking does not have to be hard, time consuming or expensive. I can remember feeling overwhelmed at first because everything was new.
Products like Seitan, Nutritional Yeast, and T.V.P. were alien names and mind boggling.
I made the mistake at the beginning by preparing only new recipes with unfamiliar ingredients. I would buy products and forget which recipe they were to be used to prepare. Another problem was I was fixing food that I had no idea what it was going to taste like when finished. Some were surprisingly good and some were surprisingly horrid!
As I failed though, I also learned.
Fixing Food From Scratch
I fix 90% of our meals from scratch and 10% I buy prepared food that is quick and easy to fix. i reserve those for days I have work overload and Fridays because every cook deserves a day out of the kitchen! They are easy enough for my husband to cook so I hand him the apron on Fridays.
On those days the stove burners (we do not own or want a microwave) and my air fryer are his best friends.
My husband’s absolute favorite meal are these large Vegan Italian non sausages we call, ‘Specie Spicie Friday Special’ I get mine at Walmart and we all look forward to Fridays.
I always rename Vegan foods if they are named after a meat product because I learned it sets us up for failure. Name something sausage and what do you expect it to taste like? Sausage! Guess what? It doesn’t taste like sausage. So even if it is good on its own merit, you still have that moment of doubt of what you are eating because it doesn’t taste like the name. That however is another article where I tackle that subject.
Limit New Recipes To Once A Week
When it comes to new foods and recipes, I add them to my ‘Want To Try’ List. I learned this the hard way and it was our first Thanksgiving as vegans. I spent two days preparing 5 dishes and 1 dessert from recipes I had no knowledge how they would taste. Just to let you know how over the top I went, I bought one of those fancy mini blow torches to brown my vegan meringue (a.k.a. ‘vegan fluff’) Unfortunately some of the recipes were a disappointment. Additionally those dishes that took me 2 days to prepare were eaten in 20 minutes. I’ll be looking for a Vegan restaurant this year.
The new recipes I try and we love go into our menu plans. Some I have even adapted so much to our taste buds that they are a completely new recipe all on their own enhancing my vegan cooking.
Making Things From Scratch
I am old school and a sustainable living cook. Making meals from scratch is my way of life.
I know how to make TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) tofu, seitan, soy and nut based milks. I actually enjoy making them. It does take planning though so I devote a day of the week to making these types of things. It is possible to not cook from scratch and be affordable, which is yet another article.
Setting Up A Vegan Pantry
I do believe in keeping items on hand to keep on my pantry shelves, in my fridge and I purchase in bulk. Sometimes purchasing in bulk is a hit to my finances but over all I save a lot of money, especially when food prices soar. I buy fresh vegetables from our local flea market, canned and frozen vegetables products from our Sam’s Club. The best place I have found to purchase vegan and other needed items is Vita Cost (note: this is not an affiliate link or ad.)
Setting up your vegan pantry depends on what you use a lot and the foods you decide you like. TVP is one of our favorites and I use it in so many recipes. I enjoy going to my pantry and knowing I have the items for any recipe I want to fix. I keep a grocery list on the fridge and write down the items that are low and restock.
Learn The Value of the Food to Prepare a Balanced Meal.
Another suggestion I give to new vegans is learn about the new ingredients you are using. Planning balanced meals are important so learn the product’s value. TVP is high in protein so if I plan a meal I know that will be something that will give us the protein needed. Most seitan is made from vital wheat gluten. If you or a family member has wheat/gluten allergies then be aware of this.
Tofu and TVP are made from soy. Some prefer to limit or omit soy from their diet.
Doing some research helps to keep everyone healthy and provide balanced meals.
We felt deprived until I began creating vegan dishes from our old comfort food recipes. I use our ‘Specie Spicey’ friday specials instead of polish sausage with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. Add a dessert and a familiar dish is on the table and everyone is full when they leave. Use TVP with some spices to create a topping for spaghetti and a favorite pasta sauce. Comfort food is filling for us. It provides us with satisfaction of familiar dishes, fills us up and keeps us on a healthy vegan diet.
My husband’s health required us to switch to a vegan diet. I did it slow and when I emptied the mayonnaise jar then I replaced it with a vegan form of mayo. I did it gradually until I had a vegan pantry. Some people convert and switch instantly. Decide the best plan that works for you and give it a try.
Our food bills have gone down, my husband thinks I’m a genius because of my vegan cooking skills and we are healthier because of our balanced meals. There are plenty of cookbooks that can get you started.